Fire district puts on ‘Citizen’s Academy’

Behind the scenes at ECFR

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Seven local citizens got first-hand looks at the operations at East County Fire and Rescue during its Citizen’s Basic Fire Academy in March at the Fern Prairie fire station in Camas.

During the eight-hour session, the citizen group learned about how fire districts serve the unincorporated areas in Clark County, performed emergency medical care, extinguished vehicle fires, and used extrication tools to tear a car apart.

Participants included Scott Abels, Jim and Diane Case, Martha Martin, Mike Milani, Sheila Plato and Faren Ramos. ECFR firefighters who took part in the exercise included Arthur Bonenfant, Reece Bonenfant, Nathan Brimlow, Mike Carnes, Brad Delano, Alex Gray, Matt Hazlett, Paula Knapp and Zach Vetter. Camas firefighters included Dale McKenzie and Greg Weisser.

According to a press release from ECFR, the Citizen’s Fire Academy exposes interested persons to the “workings” of the fire district.

ECFR Fire Commissioner Gary Larson and Fire Chief Scott Koehler talked about the business aspects of running the Fire District including laws pertaining to the formation and operation of fire districts, the funding, the many legal mandates that govern fire districts, the customer service aspects of providing emergency service, and the ongoing fire and risk reduction efforts made by local firefighters.

ECFR Firefighter/IV Technician Brad Delano and his crew then talked about how emergency medical services are delivered, and showed academy participants how to use some of the medical equipment carried by firefighters.

They then ran a “Mega-Code,” which is a simulated cardiac arrest — performing CPR, ventilating a non-breathing patient, starting IVs, and documenting the many procedures and medications that are administered to patients in critical medical emergencies. Camas firefighters assisted and then showed their ambulance to the group.

ECFR firefighters then spent part of the afternoon demonstrating how to use fire hoses. Participants donned turnouts, extinguished several fires in the cab of an old pick-up truck, and then cut-up an old car using hydraulic rescue tools. At the end of the day, the 5-door SUV had no doors and was turned into a convertible.

Academy members were provided a certificate of participation and an agency T-shirt, and will have the opportunity to participate in a ride-along with ECFR firefighters and a sit-along with dispatchers at the Clark County 9-1-1 call center.

All seven plan to return to the ECFR Citizen’s Advanced Fire Academy on April 28, which will allow them to operate an emergency operations center, triage and treat simulated patients at a mass casualty incident, and perform additional fire fighting tasks.

ECFR hopes to repeat the academies next spring.